Anne Faulkner, blog author from the website Ancestor Archaeology, has shared this blog as part of our ongoing “How I Solved It Series”.
This blog explains how Anne realized an error in her family tree after someone with the correct resources had updated profiles on FamilySearch with the realization that she was dealing with two people with the same name.
The whole thing started Sunday. I received an email from FamilySearch, a notification titled “Weekly FamilySearch changes for people you are watching”. I opened it immediately. It looked wrong. I went to FamilySearch to see just what had been done.
Can of worms.
The person I was watching was (I thought) my 5th great grandfather, Joseph Rowley; or Joseph L Rowley, or even sometimes Joseph Langrill Rowley. But the wife that FamilySearch had listed for him was wrong. The family they had listed for him was wrong.
This was not a case of someone ‘fixing’ a family without any knowledge (for a change) No, this was a case of sources being added to support the family unit. It made sense. The sources were correct. Shoot.
That means the problem was me.
Or rather, my grandmother AND the 10 people who used this man to join the DAR.
Yes, Joseph was a patriot. My grandmother’s supplemental patriot. One I really hadn’t investigated since it had been approved by the DAR. Oh, I would have gotten around to it eventually – but he wasn’t a high priority.
I am a tenacious researcher. I see a problem and I must fix it. Dog with a bone kind of thing. Funny in a way, not so much to those outside the inner sanctum. (aka husband). I can easily look (and act) like Gary Bussey after untold hours in the Cave. Babbling about stuff and nonsense to the unenlightened. (aka: see above)
So I dug in.
First stop the DAR website. I can’t share the actual images, but I can tell you that there are 2 patriots named Joseph Rowley. (DAR Disclaimer: The databases contain DAR proprietary information which should under no circumstances be redistributed to others; assembled or collected for purposes other than DAR membership or for citation in genealogical scholarship; or reproduced, published or posted in any form whatsoever.) One, my grandmother’s patriot, Joseph Rowley #A099328; the other? Joseph Langrill Rowley #A210894. You can look for yourself here. If you look at the descendants list for each application you will begin to see the same confusion that I had.
Seems somebody’s got some ‘splainin’ to do.
And, to make it MORE confusing (because, why not?) Both men we born in Colchester, CT! One in 1750 the other in 1752. They were listed as dying in different states, in different years and the service records were completely different, they were certainly different men, and it’s highly unlikely they were brothers. Cousins?
There is only one DAR application associated with Joseph Langrill Rowley. This application shows his wife to be the same as the FamilySearch entry that started this whole thing.
The other Joseph has 10 applications associated with him, including my grandmother’s. Some show his name as Joseph, some show Joseph L while others show Joseph Langrill. The SAR applications are even more confusing – let’s just not go there ….
What to do?
Put aside all previous research! Start over. Start with what I know.
1) Joseph Rowley (A099328) b. 1752 Colchester CT d. 12/23/1835 Victor, NY m. (1) Sibbel Fox (2) Hannah Loveland; Service: Mass. Rank: Private, Pension #: SR9051V
2) Joseph Langrill Rowley (A210894) b. 4/16/1750 Colchester, CT d. 10/1849 Fayette Twp, OH m. Mary Welch; Service: Conn. Rank: Staff Officer, Pension #: S7408
|Edith Rowley’s Notes
in Pension File 7408
I started two research trees on Ancestry with the above information. I was able to put together Joseph #2’s life pretty quickly. There were lots of good records on him, including his complete 35 page pension file (#7408)! And one very interesting document (on page 27) that perhaps started the confusion. Dated 1903, a letter from a Miss Edith Rowley requesting information for her DAR application. Her letter gave the name, birth/death dates and service history (correctly) of Joseph #1 – but the Pension Office sent her the service records of Joseph #2 – or at least filed her letter with the wrong Joseph Rowley! Poor Edith! Was she as confused as I was? (Who knew our boy had a middle name – well, he does now!)
Since I had found Joseph #2’s pension so easily* – and read the entire thing through, of course -(*Ancestry actually gave it to me as a hint) I searched within the “U.S., Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900” database for Joseph #1.
|Excerpt From Pension File 9051|
There it was in all of it’s 52 tattered, dog-eared, glorious pages! THIS was the file Edith was looking for. THIS file explained everything. Well, started to anyway. This file listed both wives, birth dates, death dates, children’s names – every place Joseph had lived his entire life! Entire life! I read those 52 pages three times, I’ll read them again … (and yes, they are safely downloaded to my computer – and my back-up) Seems there was quite a stink over widow’s rights, the second wife was trying to get death benefits, lots of court stuff but what a great read!!
Back to the DAR records for a minute. There was a second son listed on two of the applications, eight of the records used my 4th great grandfather, but two used his brother. This brother was not listed in the pension records, but not all the grown children were. I added him to the new tree and man did things explode!
Sideways research is my new best friend. Collateral research has solved more ‘brick walls’ for me in the last few years than I can count on one hand. (they are, after all ‘brick walls’)
Turns out this guy, Jireh Rowley, was an early pioneer of Will County Illinois and much was written about him. Through him I was able to discover his father Joseph #1’s parents, found Joseph’s birth record (it was actually 1753) and, ultimately linked the whole thing together.
Joseph and Joseph Langrill were second cousins!
As I began to put the trees together, the farther back I was able to get the more familiar the names were getting. Turns out Joseph and Joseph Langrill shared a great grandfather. Their grandfathers were brothers. I had most of it right, but a two generation chunk was diverted. Like a detour. I think I blame the Pension Office for giving the wrong records to Edith back in 1903.
But it’s all good now.
And I’m still related to Edward Fuller* – x2 now!
AND, when I got my Ancestry tree corrected – my DNA hints started to make sense for this line.
Happy dance in the Cave!
(Personal disclaimer: this is the Cliff Notes version – it took a while longer, with many fits and starts, to get it sorted! Still a work in progress – I’ve got a date with the American Ancestors database in the very near future!)
If you have a story idea or a blog that you’d like to share as part of this series, please let us know about it in the comments.